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CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show

CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show

Arnold Schwarzenegger used his tired routines on the nation’s exhibitors at the first CinemaCon studio presentation at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace Tuesday: “I told you! I’ll be back!” But it was Tom Cruise who showed some muscle in customary daredevil mode, hanging by his fingernails off an A400 aircraft in Chris McQuarrie’s “Mission: Impossible –Rogue Nation” (July 31).

Cruise obligingly showed real footage of him hanging with a side harness from the aircraft as it took off and the ground receded below. He wore special lenses to protect his eyes from the force of the wind which knocked his feet off the wing as his legs dangled, and submitted to eight very cold takes, banking up to 5000 feet, breathing jet fuel fumes, without any protective padding. “He’s crazy,” said his costar Rebecca Ferguson, who like comic relief Simon Pegg (along with Ving Rhames and Jeremy Renner) did many of her own stunts as well. Cruise admits, “My body was flapping against the fuselage. I was scared shitless.”

McQuarrie is editing now. Even the requisite escape-from-torture and car chase scenes had zing. I can’t wait to see this. 

Not so the latest “Terminator” relaunch from “Game of Thrones” director Alan Taylor, “Genisys,” starring a returning Schwarzenegger as a graying cyborg (how will they explain that?), Jason Clarke as scarred Skynet fighter John Connor, petite “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke in buff brunette mode as his mother and Lee Byung-hun as a silver morphing T-1000. Paramount is optimistically calling this the first installment of a new trilogy, but it doesn’t look like much of an improvement on the last batch of retreads. Paramount vice-chairman Rob Moore talked about needing to be woken up as he introduced a slim 2015 Paramount lineup including summer comedy “Daddy’s Home,” about a schlub step-dad (Will Ferrell) lamely trying to compete with his new children’s charismatic father (Mark Wahlberg), more “Paranormal Activity” and “Ring” sequels for fall, and Christopher Landon family comedy “Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” for October.

Of more interest is what’s shooting now in New Orleans: upcoming Michael Lewis (“Moneyball,” “The Blind Side”) adaptation “The Big Short,” from New Regency and Plan B (Oscar-winner “Birdman”) and writer-director Adam McKay (“Anchorman”), starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt –this starry assemblage yielded an audible “ooh” reaction from the theater owners. 

Also coming up in 2016: while he tries to find a new twist on the mighty “Transformers” franchise, Michael Bay tackles the secret soldiers behind the Benghazi rescue with “13 Hours,” starring John Krasinski, for Martin Luther King weekend. Timur Bekmambetov’s epic take on the novel “Ben-Hur” wraps up shooting at Rome’s Cinecitta with Jack Huston in the title role next month (February 2016). The next “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” boasts new villains Bebop and Rock Steady (June 3). “Fast & Furious” graduate Justin Lin monosyllabically joined JJ Abrams for a video greeting to the exhibitors on Star Trek 3,” due in July 2016. Chris Wedge of “Ice Age” fame is directing Paramount Animation’s “Monster Trucks” for Christmas release. 

After a clip of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson parading around Paris Fashion Week, Stiller delivered a polished and hilarious video in character as Derek Zoolander, reminding us of how little money the previous “Zoolander” made 12 years ago, promising theater owners that with a cast including Will Ferrell, Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Penelope Cruz, the “PSA for ‘Zoolander’ is going to blow the multi off your plexes,” adding, “it will drop like a great bomb!”  

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